White House Invites Military Spouses to Mother's Day Tea

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2014 - To recognize military spouses' selfless service and sacrifice, First Lady Michelle Obama invited a group of military wives and family members to the annual Mother's Day Tea at the White House today.

Joined by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and as part of their Joining Forces initiative, Obama and Biden thanked the spouses and families for their service to the nation.


"We have an extraordinary group here today," the first lady told the audience members in the East Room of the White House. "We've got moms who served in Iraq [and] Afghanistan. We've got military wives and partners who've moved across the country again and again. We have grandmothers who helped take care of the kids while mom or dad or both were deployed."

Noting that she is both a "proud military mom and grandma," Biden said she was honored to be in the presence of military families. "I feel a special bond with other military moms," she added.

Obama emphasized military spouses' sacrifice by noting a couple of moms in the audience.

Judith Chedville, the first lady noted, served the nation in Iraq and Kuwait, but left the service in 2004 because she could no longer serve in good conscience under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.

"When my husband repealed the policy in 2011, Judith re-enlisted," the first lady said, eliciting applause. "Today, she is a first lieutenant in the Texas Army National Guard. She is here with her spouse, Alicia Butler, and their beautiful 1-year-old daughter, Jordan."

Obama also introduced Karen Ruedisueli, whose husband is an Army major and served several years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"In their short lifetime, [the Ruedisueli children] have lived in 10 different houses," the first lady said. "They have gone to three different elementary schools. With all those moves, Karen was forced to put her 15-year career in marketing and development on hold. But she has been determined to use her skills and her talents to give back, so over the past few years she's been a volunteer for Blue Star families."

Obama added that Ruedisueli also has led the Family Readiness Group when her husband's unit deployed to Afghanistan, and she now works full-time with the National Military Family Association to advocate for other families like hers.

Obama said the audience members are the "perfect examples" of why they were invited to the annual tea.

"As military moms, you're doing so much, not just for your families, but for your communities and our country. Most people don't know that," the first lady noted.

"You are the ones with husbands deployed, and you're still driving the carpool and volunteering, joining neighborhood organizations, working with your congregations to prepare care packages for other people," Obama said. "And no matter what your country asks of you and your family, you're the ones who step up and you do it with grace, dignity and without complaint."

Noting that a "special guest" was in the audience "as a token of gratitude" for the military families, Obama introduced singer/songwriter Norah Jones, who seated herself at a grand piano in the East Room and played songs for the Mother's Day tea participants.

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